March of the 'Mouse House!'
Call it the anti-mySpace/Fox deal, and Disney's Bob Iger might be crazy like a fox.
The company announces a strong quarter, but the bigger news is the company's acquisition of Club Penguin, an online social networking site targeted at 6 - 12 year olds. Disney spent $350 million on the site. but with 700,000 registered members, and the chance to hook these kids into the Disney line of properties, the deal could turn into a bargain and in a couple of years, we may look at Iger the way we look at a shrewd Rupert Murdoch and his brilliant play for mySpace.
Club Penguin shows huge promise, according to Hitwise. ClubPenguin.com was the 131st most visited website in the U.S. for June 2007; U.S. traffic to ClubPenguin.com increased 329% comparing June 2007 versus June 2006; and among a select group of virtual world websites, ClubPenguin.com received the third most visits for June 2007. And unlike mySpace, it's a controlled, fairly "safe" environment designed specifically for kids. Now, it'll carry the Disney stamp of approval. A compelling destination for next-gen social networkers.
The deal also offers serious potential upside for Apple . Let's not forget Steve Jobs' role in the Magic Kingdom as Disney's largest shareholder following the Pixar deal. I'm hearing that Apple will also try to use Club Penguin to market new iPods, back-to-school Macs and other Apple products. This could be a boon as Apple tries to tempt a whole new generation of "Mac" and "Apple Faithful."
Media investor Porter Bibb was on our air today talking about the $17 million Iger was paid last year, and said he was worth every penny. With a vision like this, an earnings report like today's, and if the Club Penguin deal pays off, that might be an understatement.